"Mate aren't you bored yet?"
Nathan Lyon teased Cheteshwar Pujara during the fourth Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) while the latter was batting in the first innings. His blows were the only response and Australia had no reverts for him. They had thrown everything possible at the India No. 3, but he was unfazed and remained in meditating zone. It was evident from the word go, you could sense that it was going to be a long toil for the Aussies if they didn't dismiss him early on.
At the start of the series, Pujara was censured for not churning out consistent performances in the SENA (South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia) countries. In 2018, he had scored a couple of half-centuries (one each in South Africa and England) and an excellent hundred at Southampton. However, the consistency was not quite there. Before the series, there was a big build up of how the batsmen need to support their skipper Virat Kohli who was simply outstanding on those two tours of South Africa and England.
Pujara, best blunter in world cricket?
And Pujara shot his hand up straight away. He finished as the leading run-getter as he scored 521 runs at an average of 74.43 which included three excellent tons. The second highest run-getter was Rishabh Pant who was 171 runs behind him. Pujara literally meditated at the crease as he faced a record 1258 balls in the series. He stood there like a rock throughout the series blunting out a quality attack.
In the first game, India were in dire-straits at 41/4 and then at 127/6. But the Saurashtra lad bailed India out by scoring a fabulous 123 as he plummeted India to a respectable score of 250. He then backed it up with another very good knock of 72. While the other Indian batsmen struggled against his nemesis, Nathan Lyon, Pujara bossed the Aussie off-spinner in Adelaide and it became one of the big subplots of the series.
Pujara's approach is a winner, he doesn't look to meddle with anything out of his reach early on in his innings. He is happy to bide his time at the crease and blunt out the opposition bowling. There was too much emphasis on his strike-rate some time back but there won't be one person questioning his intent after the series he's had this time around.
"Want to give a special mention to Pujara. Especially after the kind of series he had the last time he came here. He's one guy always willing to accept things. Takes it in his stride and works on his game. He's the nicest man around," Kohli said in the post-match presentation.
Bringing home the baTon
A strong team and a stronger captain, Virat himself was a spitball of fire, with not the bat this time but with his leadership, inspiriting the team with his tactical brilliance and intelligent line up of batsmen throughout the series.
"So proud to be a part of this team, great feeling! This is not just a team this is a family. Onwards and upwards from here on, " tweeted Kohli
Though the entire team's performance has been praiseworthy, this concluding test match had some very commendable inputs from Jasprit Bumrah and Rishabh Pant. Rishab Pant wowed all with not just his charming chatter, but his powerful batting and whopping catches.
Bumrah is just 10-matches old but the evened the score with Nathan Lyon, who has played about 81 matches in his career, as the highest wicket taker and with a much better strike rate.
Tweeter is viral with even a song dedicated to Rishab Pant, and some of the comments are no less tickling yet complimentary.